Reforming the Art of Dying : The ars moriendi in the German Reformation (1519–1528) book cover
1st Edition

Reforming the Art of Dying
The ars moriendi in the German Reformation (1519–1528)

ISBN 9780754654391
Published February 22, 2007 by Routledge
304 Pages

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Book Description

The Reformation led those who embraced Martin Luther's teachings to revise virtually every aspect of their faith and to reorder their daily lives in view of their new beliefs. Nowhere was this more true than with death. By the beginning of the sixteenth century the Medieval Church had established a sophisticated mechanism for dealing with death and its consequences. The Protestant reformers rejected this new mechanism. To fill the resulting gap and to offer comfort to the dying, they produced new liturgies, new church orders, and new handbooks on dying. This study focuses on the earliest of the Protestant handbooks, beginning with Luther's Sermon on Preparing to Die in 1519 and ending with Jakob Otter's Christlich leben vnd sterben in 1528. It explores how Luther and his colleagues adopted traditional themes and motifs even as they transformed them to accord with their conviction that Christians could be certain of their salvation. It further shows how Luther's colleagues drew not only on his teaching on dying, but also on other writings including his sermons on the sacraments. The study concludes that the assurance of salvation offered in the Protestant handbooks represented a significant departure from traditional teaching on death. By examining the ways in which the themes and teachings of the reformers differed from the late medieval ars moriendi, the book highlights both breaks with tradition and continuities that marked the early Reformation.

Table of Contents

Contents: Preface; Introduction; Between fear and hope: uncertainty of salvation in the late medieval Ars moriendi; Martin Luther’s Eyn Sermon von der bereytung zum sterben (1519); Sermons on preparation for death; Handbooks or manuals for use at the deathbed; Instruction on dying in summaries of reformation teaching; Conclusion; Bibliography; Index.

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Austra Reinis is Assistant Professor of the History of Christianity in the Department of Religious Studies, Missouri State University, Springfield, Missouri, USA.


’The work fills a gap in the understanding of how a particular area of pastoral care and instruction took on a Reformed shape.’ Anaphora ’... clearly-written and thorough review of a neglected by important genre... a useful study that makes accessible to an English-speaking readership a genre which continued to be of great pastoral significance throughout the years of the early Lutheran Reformation and beyond.’ Ecclesiastical History ’This is a richly documented theological and rhetorical analysis, buttressed by interesting details about biographical and social context, that effectively represents the enthusiasm of these early evangelical theologians of consolation at death.’ Catholic Historical Review ’This is a useful book for both specialists and nonspecialists.’ German Studies Review